Types of Indoor Palm Trees

Palms add an elegant grace to home interiors with their exotic-looking fronds and rich green color. Although many species of palms are marketed and sold as house plants, only three species of palms prosper easily in the even, comfortable indoor temperatures and accompanying low light and humidity.

Parlor Palms

Belonging to the botanical genus, or group, Chamaedorea, parlor palms have feathery fronds that prosper in the temperatures and dim, indirect light common in homes and offices. Different species in this genus attain different clumping widths or heights, so investigate mature sizes of a species to see if it meets your interior space's requirements. If humidity is too low, the thin leaflets on the fronds will turn tan. These palms are often placed on porches or screened, three-season rooms to benefit from outdoor air and humidity. Bring them indoors if frost is expected.

Lady Palms

Lady palms (Rhapis spp.) have fan-like or hand-like fronds that look like horizontal shelves on a fibrous, thin stem. Best in a consistently moist soil, this group of palms is tolerant of low light and dry air and the temperatures common in living spaces. They also are more vertical in habit, making them particularly good in rooms with limited space. Usually several trunks are clustered in a pot for a robust display.

Kentia Palm

Also called the hotel palm since they are widely used in hotel lobby decoration, the kentia palm (Howea forsteriana) has arching, dark green fronds that look like feathers. Arguably no other house plant palm is as elegant in stature. This palm is exceptionally tolerant of typical home temperatures, low humidity, low light and infrequent watering. Thus, even if neglected or forgotten by the house plant lover, this palm tends to always look presentable.

Keywords: houseplant palms, Chamaedorea, Howea, Rhapis, interiorscapes

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," non-profit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He holds a Master of Science in public horticulture from the University of Delaware and studied horticulture and biology in Australia at Murdoch University and the University of Melbourne.